Billed as a blockbuster, this week’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB (4-7 October) really has it all: a dramatic opening night under the floodlights; challenging new speed tests in the legendary Welsh forests and a stunning finale with cars racing through the closed streets of Llandudno – the first free-to-attend WRC stage in the UK for more than 20 years.
Then there’s the added excitement of thrilling three-way title fights for both Drivers’ and Manufacturers’ WRC Championships as well as a local Welshman – Elfyn Evans – gunning for back-to-back GB victories after his 2017 success. It all adds up to an absolutely unmissable sporting spectacle.
More than 150 competitors will be based in the Deeside Rally Village with those contesting round 11 of this year’s 13 round FIA World Rally Championship facing 23 speed tests totalling nearly 200 miles (318kms) spread over four days of epic high-speed action.
The introduction of an awesome new generation of turbocharged, four-wheel-drive cars attracted record crowds to last year’s event and, as a result, an even more fan-friendly route has been devised for 2018.
It all blasts off under the lights at the Tir Prince Raceway on Thursday evening and concludes with the history-making Great Orme Llandudno Street Stage on Sunday morning – the first time World Championship motor sport has ever been seen on closed roads in Great Britain.
“There really is something for everyone,” enthuses Ben Taylor, managing director of Dayinsure Wales Rally GB. “We have an unsurpassed breed of stunning cars, the most exciting title race in memory, a local hero in Elfyn Evans, all the classic stages in the Welsh forests plus an amazing finish on the streets of Llandudno – it adds up to an incredible four days of epic entertainment. Even the weather seems to be set fair!”
The Welsh Government’s Minister for Culture, Tourism and Sport, Lord Elis-Thomas, is equally excited. He says: “North Wales is very familiar with adventure, and for a weekend in October –Wales Rally GB becomes part of the family and adds to the adrenaline and excitement. Wales is home to some of the world’s most legendary rally stages – and this year’s route is a showcase of our fantastic Welsh scenery – with a spectacular finish along the coast during the Year of the Sea. We look forward to another successful event as some of the sport’s legendary drivers take on the challenges of the Wales Rally GB.”
Tickets are still on sale with the option of buying online or on the gate subject to availability. Those buying in advance online can take advantage of significantly discounted tickets. When purchased now, adult admission starts at just £15 for the Thursday evening curtain-raiser at Tir Prince Raceway with the premium four-day event pass remaining at £99 for the ninth successive year.
Day Passes in advance for Friday and Saturday cost £28.00 with Sunday’s Day Pass priced even more attractively at £23.00. These passes not only give access to all speed tests on that day but also include all booking fees, a copy of the Official Programme (cover price £9) plus car parking on a ‘first come, first-served’ basis.
Full information can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.com website and via the event’s social media channels.
TITLE FIGHT REACHES FEVER PITCH
Not for 15 years has the WRC produced such a captivating title battle among both drivers and manufacturers. With three rounds remaining on the 2018 calendar, just 24 points separate series leader Thierry Neuville, fast finishing Ott Tänak and five-time world champ Sébastien Ogier. With 90 points still on the table, the crown can not be won in Wales but, with time running out, all three protagonists will be flat-out in the forests.
A campaign that appeared to be building towards a duel between defending champion Ogier and heir apparent Neuville has been gate-crashed by man-of-the moment Tänak. The Estonian arrives in Wales having won the previous three rounds in Finland, Germany and Turkey in his Toyota Yaris and now finally admits he’s a title threat. “We are in the fight now,” he acknowledges.
Neuville still has his Hyundai’s nose in front but knows he has a battle on his hands. “We are fighting for the championship against some very hard guys to beat,” says the Belgian.
“It’s a three-way fight,” agreed Ogier. “There are still three rallies to go and everything is possible. Nothing is finished yet.”
Now fans in Wales can witness the next page-turning chapter in this WRC thriller.
GOOD EVANS: A WELSH WINNER!
While many eyes will be focused on the title fight, local fans will be hoping home hero Elfyn Evans can again upset the form book.
Last year, the Welsh wizard from Dolgellau, made history by becoming the first Welsh driver ever to win a round of the World Rally Championship – a feat he’s now aiming to repeat.
“Competing at home always bring a special motivation and we are targeting another victory,” he says. “The fans were amazing last year and I hope it’s going to be same again.”
CROWNING A BRITISH RALLY CHAMPION
Whether Evans wins again or not, Welsh fans should have one champion to cheer on the podium in Llandudno. Providing extra spectacle and interest, this year’s Dayinsure Wales Rally GB also features the final two rounds of the Prestone MSA British Rally Championship… a coveted title another local ace, Matt Edwards, is on the cusp of securing on home soil.
Serving up yet more eye-catching entertainment, the WRGB National Rally shadows the main event on Friday and Saturday allowing amateur crews to compete alongside their WRC heroes. Packed with much-loved Subarus, Mitsubishi Evos, Escort Mk2s and even a couple of VW Beetles, the National Rally is always a real crowd-pleaser.
KICK-OFF UNDER THE SPOTLIGHTS
As proved so popular when introduced last year, the competitive action will blast off with a fabulous, atmospheric curtain-raiser under the spotlights at the Tir Prince Raceway in Towyn on Thursday evening.
Gates open at 4pm and a full programme including autograph sessions, team presentations and stunt shows precedes the rally’s opening speed test which includes jumps, donuts and a dazzling sideways blast around the country’s premier trotting track.
FAN FRIDAY IN NORTH WALES
A key component to this year’s innovative new rally route is a Friday set entirely in north Wales, bringing the incredible World Rally Championship within easy reach of fans in cities such as Liverpool and Manchester.
The day’s itinerary features four venues either side of a lunchtime return to the Deeside Rally Village giving visitors a wonderful opportunity to see close up the expert technical teams servicing their cars.
One of the day’s highlights will be the new Slate Mountain special stage set high up in Snowdonia which crews will tackle twice in quick succession serving up a double dose of WRC thrills and spills.
SUPER SATURDAY IN MID WALES
‘Super Saturday’ is so named as it not only features the most competitive mileage but is also set in the legendary rallying heartlands of mid Wales close to Machynlleth and Aberystwyth.
All the classics are included – Myherin, Hafren, Dyfi, Gartheiniog and Dyfnant – as well as a visit to the always popular Sweet Lamb complex close to Llanidloes where spectators are treated to jumps, water splashes and live commentary.
GRAND FINALE ON THE STREETS OF LLANDUDNO
With Wales celebrating its ‘Year of the Sea’, there could be no more appropriate finale to the 2018 Dayinsure Wales Rally GB than the ground-breaking Great Orme Llandudno Street Stage.
Making history, for the first time in Great Britain, streets in the town are being closed to host World Championship motor sport – the WRC finale coming at the climax of a full weekend’s family entertainment in the famous north Wales resort town.
Ensuring everyone can savour the milestone occasion, public admission is free… though grandstand and hospitality upgrades are available for those wanting even better vantage points.
Sunday also sees two new speed tests in Snowdonia one of which – Gwydir, close to Betws-y-Coed – acts as the event’s critical Power Stage. This offers the fastest five drivers extra championship points which could prove pivotal in this year’s edge-of-the-seat title race.
Full information – including ticket details and an in-depth Rally Planner – can be found on the official www.walesrallygb.comwebsite.
2018 DAYINSURE WALES RALLY GB ROUTE
Thursday 4 October:
19:00 – SS1: Tir Prince
Friday 5 October:
07:56 – SS2: Clocaenog 1
08:32 – SS3: Brenig 1
09:47 – SS4: Penmachno 1
10:40 – SS5: Slate Mountain 1
10:47 – SS6: Slate Mountain 2
13:11 – Service: Deeside Rally Village
14:37 – SS7: Clocaenog 2
15:13 – SS8: Brenig 2
16:28 – SS9: Penmachno 2
19:02 – Service and overnight: Deeside Rally Village
Saturday 6 October:
08:35 – SS10: Myherin 1
09:15 – SS11: Sweet Lamb Hafren 1
10:28 – SS12: Dyfi 1
11:02 – SS13: Gartheiniog 1
12:08 – SS14: Dyfnant (Live TV)
13:15 – Regroup: Newtown
14:52 – SS15: Myherin 2
15:32 – SS16: Sweet Lamb Hafren 2
16:45 – SS17: Dyfi 2
17:19 – SS18: Gartheiniog 2
19:37 – Service and overnight: Deeside Rally Village
Sunday 7 October:
07:22 – SS19: Elsi
08:08 – SS20: Gwydir 1 (Power Stage)
09:16 – SS21: Great Orme Llandudno 1
10:29 – SS22: Gwydir 2
12:18 – SS23: Great Orme Llandudno 2
13:15 – Ceremonial Finish: The Promenade, Llandudno